Thursday, March 23, 2023

Meant to stoke race hate

And nothing more.  

I'm sure you've heard the story that San Francisco is moving forward with a plan to award every black resident $5 million dollars because slavery and systemic racism.  Anyone who thinks that will lead to some racial harmony or reconciliation has sawdust for brains.  

But let's face it, this has nothing to do with any such thing.  It has nothing to do with reconciliation, harmony, justice, reparations, or anything.  It's about pitting Americans against each other and, if we're lucky, getting Americans to act as they're accused of being.   Royally tick off white Americans as best you can, and if any react negatively against the black community, viola!  Racism proven. 

The two pronged attack by our emerging top down revolution against the Christian Western Democratic tradition is 1) divide and conquer, and 2) guilt by association.  Convince the world that European and American Caucasians are a malignant blight upon the world.  Anything associated with their civilization is therefore open to suspicion.  Ideas of liberty, democracy and equality came from that civilization, so let's reconsider.   Thus religious liberty has been a tool exploited by white nationalists and white supremacists, so let's rethink this whole religious liberty thing.  Same goes foe equality, presumption of innocence and free speech. 

The other is endless divisions of Group A v. Group B (fill in your favorite groups accordingly).  That way when  they say the government needs power to punish, to oppress, to strip away rights, to ban, or enact other moves against freedoms, it can assure us it will only be used against those haters over there.  Blacks might get millions while whites are marginalized, but they can trust that nothing bad will ever happen to black Americans.  Or any group containing me.  Just give society the power to take away their rights and reduce them to second class, and they promise it will never happen to you.

It takes a special level of stupid to fall for this, but stupid has been the goal for decades now.  And it has worked.  I've said before that our educational system has either failed miserably or succeeded beyond its wildest dreams.  Because on the whole, we are a stupid age, with things said by our best and brightest that would have drawn scorn from your average middle schooler when I was a lad.  Drugged up, sexed up narcissistic fools: the only formula needed to seize and throw down a prosperous nation built on freedom, democracy and equality.  It appears to have worked like a charm. 


Monday, March 20, 2023

JK Rowling discovers 21st Century liberal "Tolerance"

I've often said that modern leftwing tolerance is a lot like Kosher ham.  I've seldom seen anything as self-righteously intolerant, close minded and judgmental as the modern Left.  And it covers this by projecting itself onto anyone who dissents.  If they say children should be surgically altered without parents' consent and you disagree, it's because you're the hater, you're the intolerant one, the judgmental one, the close minded one.  The threat. 

Today,  that is based on whatever the Left wakes up and decides is truth for the day.  If it says sex with teddy bears tomorrow, or that C-A-T spells 'Dog', then you had best fully support the new truth.  Oh, and you can't just invoke dead liberalism's 'live and let live' principle either.  You must 100% speak full support for the Left's latest dogmas or, well, see JK Rowling

Once a darling of the media and the Left, she's fallen on hard times.  So much so that this woman, comfy behind her billion dollar bank account, is beginning to crack.  Recently she was interviewed by the NYT and tried to patch things up by saying it's been a big misunderstanding.  For a woman known for her pit bull tenacity and willingness to give as good as she gets, that's quite a change. That's because the latest Harry Potter foray, a video game, is under brutal attack. Attempts to ban it are running rampant, and enough bad press is being generated against the Potter brand that some are wondering if it could impact sales.

Funny thing about being a billionaire.  You have to keep being one.  And with the realization that her once groupie press/state/academy is eerily silent while those who Mark Shea once correctly called 'Gay Brownshirts' make strides in destroying her product, her brand, her name, and her life, you can see her starting to sweat.

And this is JK Rowling.  Once a hero of the Global Left, owing to her feminism, LGTBQ advocacy, liberal values and clear post-Christian leftwing views.  The most successful author of all time.  A billionaire power player.  But she has fallen from the purer faith.  She has forgotten that to remain in the Left's good graces, you must be 100%, not 99.99%,obeient.  Anything else and, well, see JK Rowling.  That's JK Rowling, billionaire power player celebrity.  Imagine what they can do to you

Saturday, March 18, 2023

How can you not see the racism?

That was my question for Deacon Greydanus over at Catholic World Report.  He wrote a review of the latest Rocky based movie.  I've lost track of how many Rocky movies there are.  Anyway, I read through the review out of curiosity since I didn't realize the series was still going.  Suddenly, I came to a paragraph that really jumped out at me.  This was the part that got me:

Rocky was a small-time, working-class palooka whose rags-to-riches story is part grit and part dumb luck. His antagonists include the polished showman Apollo, the Soviet golden boy Drago, and Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black. “Clubber” is also the franchise’s nastiest villain, a fact highlighting an uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic running through all six films named for Rocky, every one of which depicts a Black champion humbled, beaten, or killed in the ring by a White challenger

How in the world was Rocky racist just because Rocky is white and wins against two black opponents (because that's what 'uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic' means)?  How is Drago - a one dimensional cardboard cutout figure if there ever was one - not important win it comes to Rocky's victories?  And how is skin color the 'main' difference between Clubber Lang and Rocky?  I told him I wondered if he actually watched the third movie. 

Now, he did respond to me and was overall fine in terms of behavior.  He responded and tried to point out why I was wrong.  Why white privilege and systemic racism and racist narratives and sociological frameworks and social sin and cabbages and kings and whatnot.  He responded that nobody is saying Stallone was racist or motivated by racism.  Which, to me, wouldn't be as bad as what he was suggesting.  If he's not saying Stallone was being racist, he's saying the problem is simply that Stallone was white.  The part Stallone wrote for himself was filled by a white man, and that's the issue.  Which, by my lights, is far worse.  After all, it's one thing to falsely say a black man is guilty of something he's not guilty of.  It's another to say he's guilty simply because he's black.  Or Jewish.  Or Muslim.  Or Indian.  Or any group. 

I tried to wrap my head around Deacon Greydanus's responses, and I can't figure out what he's trying to say if not that.  It especially gets tough when he leaves that nebulous world of academic abstract thinking and says one possible solution for mitigating the racist narrative of the first Rocky movie would be making Mickey, Rocky's coach and mentor, black by scrubbing Burgess Meredith.  That seems pretty concrete, rather than abstract sociological, to me.  He's saying the problem with Mickey was the actor's skin color, and the  skin colors involved, and a different skin color would solve the problem.

Which, per my upbringing in liberal post-WW2 America, is racist.  I don't care how sociological you insist you're being.  Saying the problem with someone or something is the skin color - no other accusations intended - is a big 'Where's the swastika?' warning sign.  Again, that's from decades of having it pounded into my skull that it is ever and always evil to judge someone by their skin color. 

Perhaps I'm missing what he said, but that's the best I could come up with.  Whatever  it was, he obviously embraces the very racist White Privilege narrative, as well as the assumption of America as foundationally racist, thus anything produced can be fit into the 'America as racist' narrative; that "uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic".  If I'm wrong about that, I wish someone would explain what he was actually trying to say.  

Thursday, March 16, 2023

There was nothing else yesterday?

Hey Google, certainly there was something or someone worth featuring yesterday, March 15, for your little Google doodle:

I'll be honest, I've never had Filipino Adobo.  I'm sure it's a fine dish.  But are we certain that was the best we could come up with to represent the date, given all of the humans, events and accomplishments of the last few thousand years?  

The latest might not always be the greatest after all

Sorry Marty, we still need roads
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was a bizarre combo of grounding ourselves and yet imagining the sky was the limit.  For instance, by the time I was in later elementary school I think most people realized we were not going to be flying back and forth to moon colonies before the end of the century.  Yet the tech revolution was in full swing, and it seemed every year saw some new tech or electronic devise that promised to change our lives forever.  I think by now we're learning our lesson, but I'm not sure. 

Anyhoo, one of those brave new inventions was the Compact Disk.  That's CD for short.  I recall the first time I heard one in college.  I wondered if that was an improvement or not.  The fellow playing the CD assured me that I would be foolish not to see the obvious superiority in this latest new tech compared to dusty, rusty old tapes and records.

Well, we must be getting foolish.  I saw on the news that for the first time since 1987, vinyl records outsold CDs.  I have no doubt part of this is less the rise in vinyl as much as the decline in CDs owing to modern digital music and downloading.  Nonetheless, I find it interesting that vinyl records continue to increase in popularity in our digital age. 

Our family has been amassing a collection of vinyl over the last few years.  Two of my sons are seriously into them - both of them being among the musical ones in the family.  They insist vinyl is far richer and deeper sounding than CDs, which often come off as rather sterile.  I think they're right. I can certainly tell the difference.  It reminds me of digital versus film.  I'm sorry, but the best digital lacks something that traditional film has.  The same is true for vinyl records.  

Of course CDs weren't perfect to begin with.  The original selling point was that CDs, like cockroaches, could survive anything.  Once you have a CD it will last forever, so said the sales pitches.  We know that is far from true.   CDs wear out long before the inevitable scratch makes them useless.  And while only the worst damage can permanently disable a record, one minor scratch is all it takes to make a CD worthless.  Plus as a fellow in a local store put it, he sees records from the 1940s that sound fine, while CDs from the 80s are faded and muffled sounding - and those are the CDs that actually work. 

There were other issues.  For instance, an early  and well known example of CD limitations was the Abby Road album by The Beatles.  The song 'I Want You' famously repeats itself over and over as white noise - usually avoided in recording - builds and builds in the background.  Problem?  CDs eliminated white noise.  Therefore the CD versions of Abby Road have an improvised sound effect to duplicate the white noise.  If you listen to the CD and the album, you can't miss the difference.

But there you have it.  CDs, once part of the great leaps forward in tech and invention, are on their way out.  And the old dinosaurs, those old vinyl records, are making a comeback.  I wonder if there will be other examples of the old latest tech fading away and being replaced by pre-tech preferences.  I'm thinking the rise in boardgames over the years.  Who knows, maybe sitting around the living room and telling stories will become the rage in another few years. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

One last hurrah

Funny thing about being a parent.  It's unlikely you will ever love any person in the world more than your children.  Yet you spend all your time preparing them to leave you.  

With our sons, they received a couple dispensations from moving out.  First, owing to the catastrophic levels of college tuitions, we let them stay home and commute to school if that would help mitigate expenses. Then when Covid hit, just as they were preparing to move out, we told them they could wait until they needed to move out, whether they were in school or not.  Given the floundering economy, skyrocketing inflation and cost of living, we said they could work and accumulate what money they could. 

Nonetheless it's inevitable that the itch to step out on their own would begin to override financial worries.  For our second son, his meeting of a wonderful young woman and becoming engaged made it official.  By the end of May this year, he will have moved on.  As it should be. 

Now our sons, and family, have a reputation for being close.  That comes from my wife and me.  From the start, we broke from a lot of our peers and didn't take off on trips and vacations while the kids stayed with family.  This was partly the result of seldom having family nearby.  But when we did have loved ones nearby, we still did things around the kids.  We worked hard to have family meals, and made sure at least once a week we had a family night (called 'pizza night', but menus varied).  When one of the kids did something in school, we would make sure as many as possible were there to support him. In later years they would break off and have what they called their 'bro-nights' (and give my wife and me a chance for some time to ourselves).  

It was something people who knew us identified with us.  'Here come the Griffeys' was a common response to our arrival.  Someone once said we're like this flock that is always together.  As soon as one walks through the door, you can bet the other five are following.  

Yet it is the way it should be that they will be moving out, and sooner than later, save for our youngest.  With this May coming around the corner and the wedding, the brothers asked our second son what type of bachelor party he would like.  The sky was the limit, boasted our third oldest who makes the best money right now. Whatever he wanted and whoever he wanted to invite, it would be done.  

In the end, he said he would just like to spend time with the bros.  That's all.  Get a hotel room, and do some city searching for what each of the sons likes.  Record stores and video game stores, electronics stores and Catholic book stores, and board game stores were among the destinations.  My oldest wrote up an itinerary, and we followed it pretty well.  Most were hits, a couple misses.  

I ended up coming along due to request, plus I provided the driving in a suddenly snowy Ohio.  We went to the famous Book Loft in German Village, a store known far and wide around the country.  A bit crowded for my taste.  We attended Mass at our cathedral.  Then it was driving all over from one point to another and just hanging together.  After day one we went to our hotel suite, ordered pizza, watched movies and played games.  Before bed (and a freakishly annoying regional power outage) we toasted our son's upcoming marriage, along with an addition from me: No matter who they are with and what friends they have, they will always have each other. 

Of course the four may get together again in the future when the others make plans to walk down the aisle, or similar events.  And with the newlyweds living in town, I'm sure we'll be seeing them.  But as we all know, it will be different once he steps out the door for his new chapter in life.  You can't help feel a little melancholy.  Still, they have made us proud each one, and if God gave us nothing else but them, I'd consider myself more than blessed. 

A shout out to our beautiful Cathedral

Walking around Columbus, we liked that this was next to a dumpster

A first stop at a gaming store - expensive games!

And there was the claustrophobic Book Loft

The boys

They seemed quick to get away from the confines of the Loft

One of the games for a round at the hotel

A toast: They may bicker, but they are very close and protective of each other



Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Bwa ha ha ha!

That anyone would take corporate moralizing seriously these days is a testimony to the gullibility of fallen man:


Saturday, March 11, 2023

The little store that could

Market day in the expanded storefront
As I accept the inevitable end to Ohio State's basketball season today, there are many things I can nonetheless be happy about.  One is seeing the bookstore my son and our future daughter-in-law opened continue to impress us.  

Ages ago, about three different lives before this one, I went into business with my late brother in law.  Among the many things I learned was never go into business with a brother in law.  But I picked up a few other things along the way.  Back then, they used to say that when you open a business, the milestones are the first six months, the first year, the second year, the third year and the fifth year.  After that it's pretty much a year by year thing owing to larger forces than 'can you make it or not?'. 

Well, last month they passed their six month mark.  Part of that came from a phenomenal opening, and an equally impressive Black Friday.  Though the pre-Christmas Level 3 snow emergencies that mandated everyone shut down was a bit of a hit.  Their store is the perfect type of local business for those last minute Christmas Eve shoppers, and they missed it. 

Nonetheless. they've pulled through. Strangely January was their toughest month.  Otherwise they have outperformed expectations.  One of the things they have done is open up to local indie authors, as well as working with different community events like a monthly market day.  That's where small, local venders who sell anything under the sun can set up in their rather cavernous bookstore and sell their wares.

Today we feared Ohio State's inexplicable survival in the Big 10 Championship might cut into the crowds.  Not to mention that they are next to one of our area's big sports bars (good luck finding parking).  Yet they've done well, and the crowds were bigger than they hoped.  

This was no doubt helped because they have expanded their bookstore to include the entire store.  Initially they had opened a "minimum viable bookstore".  That was largely because they had so few bookshelves and books.  But we've learned one thing:  Apparently there is an army of people who are itching to give away books.  So with that, and a few good deals they cut with local businesses, they had the materials and shelving necessary to open up the entire store.

This has been helped by his fiancĂ©e learning how to repair books as an additional service.  That's actually a thing.  I've already had her fix one of my old college textbooks, and she did quite a good job.  The next big thing is going online, though I have learned that's easier said than done.

In any event, it's been quite a ride.  One of our local FB pages had a piece about their store.  They said above all of the things people like - the laid back attitude, the atmosphere, the basic ambiance - it is simply an inspiring thing to see in our rather downbeat, doldrum days.  The idea of two young kids, bucking the blah of the state of things today, and taking a big leap out together.  You just have to smile with that one.  

A dose of clarity

The whole Walgreens and Gavin Newsom story brought to mind this little verse from the Scriptures:

[N]o one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Revelation 13.17

Remember what I wrote the other day.  The lines should be increasingly clear. 


Friday, March 10, 2023

Take that Michigan!

After a pretty dismal season against that rival up north, we finally did something this year!  We outlasted both Michigan and Michigan State in the tournament!

I have to get this out today because OSU plays Purdue tomorrow, and that will be an ugly thing to watch.  In our best years Purdue basketball is a spoiler more often than not.  And this year, with such a miserably underperformed season, it doesn't look promising.

Still, at least we beat Michigan in something this year.  And as any Buckeye knows, a season with all losses except one against Michigan is a winning season every time.  Even if someone else has to help with the victories. 

Scriptural food for thought

And Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”  Luke 12.15

I sometimes think we forgot that.  Not that prosperity is automatically some evil thing.  But I fear we fooled ourselves into thinking it was the main thing.  Especially back when we were at the height of our prosperity as a nation.  Men especially failed in keeping our priorities straight, and not just after The Beatles arrived in New York:

Easter Morning, 1959 - the trend was already too apparent


 



Thursday, March 9, 2023

I do not know Naomi Wolf

The new Fab Four
I've heard the name.  I looked her up, and the first thing I saw was that she is a popular conspiracy theorist.  Like 80% of the things in our day, that's an overused term I've grown tired of hearing.  Like misinformation, as often as not it is used as an alternative to 'disagreeing with me.'  Or at least disagreeing with the official ruling class narrative. 

Nonetheless, I don't know anything about her, and can't speak to her credibility on any particular front.  I can say, however, that this piece she wrote caught my attention.  Rod Dreher linked to it.  She - who apparently is Jewish - writes about the return of the Near Eastern gods of sacrifice, slaughter, slavery and seduction.  Spirits of evil that had been pushed to the sidelines of history by the ascension of the Jewish and Christian Faiths.  I encourage you to read it through. 

This isn't far from where I have been for some time.  You all know I've written about our nation's descent into a secular paganism.  That is, secular by default, but enough man made god to make sure we see our loved ones and puppies and favorite rock stars again when we die.  As I've said, paganism is the at-rest position of the world when divorced from divine revelation.  Even if it is mainly an atheistic world with the thin veneer of an affirming deity for fuzzy feelings.  After all, remove the One God and mankind will happily invent his own. 

As we're seeing, such alternate religions are typically nasty things too, not the peace loving hippies of Stonehenge Woodstock.  Think on it.  As we shuffle off the old time religion, we celebrate the abortion of sixty five million pregnancies in barely three generations as one of the biggest triumphs for feminism in America.  Kids are killing each other and themselves at record breaking levels.  The deaths from AIDS, drugs and suicide take out more than 100k a year in our country alone.  Every year almost 2 million people continue to die of drugs and AIDS around the world.  All this while more and more people are wanting to sex up our kids and euthanize our undesirables in ways that would make Himmler drool.  Yet we go on, hearing that the people concerned about these developments are the haters, the villains, the ones who need 'cancelled.'

Ms. Wolf speaking to these developments is not advocating some illusionary spiritual observation in my opinion.  Rather it sounds a lot like the very thing that would make those old Near Eastern gods happy.  Also the thing that the Old Testament prophets would have railed against.   And, to be honest, most practicing Christians until recently would have called out for what they are.  

There will come a time when we have to admit we either believe in the Christian story or we don't.  We believe in a God ordered Creation or we don't.  We can only dilute and water down the historical faith so much before it ceases to be anything but hot air.  If there was truth to it at all, then we shouldn't have to wonder what is happening today and what is behind it all. 

I'm not saying I think Ms. Wolf is spot on about everything.  Clearly I see some things differently.  But coming out and admitting to the real spiritual implications of a God centered Creation that includes the Invisible, and seeing what is happening in our world in light of this, isn't a bad step in the obvious direction. 


"First, Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears;
Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children's cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipped in Rabba and her watery plain
In Argob and in Basan to the stream
of utmost Arnon."

John Milton, Paradise Lost


They have turned to me their back and not their face; and though I have taught them persistently they have not listened to receive instruction. They set up their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. They built the high places of Ba'al in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Mo'lech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Jeremiah 32.33-35

Monday, March 6, 2023

Deacon Greydanus misses the obvious

In a set of Twitter posts, Deacon Greydanus does his best to convince readers that Fox News is somehow worse in its biases and faulty reporting than other news outlets.  Here is the pertinent observation:



First thing I notice is that he deftly leaves MSNBC off the list.  That's because if news outlets now wear their biases on their sleaves, MSNBC has its partisanship tattooed on its forehead.  Of all television news outlets, it verges on tabloid parody.  

Second, he misses the donkey in the living room.  I'm not sure what the allusion to MSM is (typically mainstream media, not a specific outlet), but the problem isn't that they are all biased. As he correctly states, journalism has been biased since the dawn of journalism.  It's that they all have the same bias.  And that's the problem.

In fact, in a bit of irony that the good deacon seems to have missed, the reason we have Fox is precisely because by the mid 90s, a growing number of Americans - including Democrats I knew - were becoming uneasy with the glaring advocacy that the 'MSM' displayed.  It was obvious that these news outlets were all defending the Clinton White House, advocating issues like gay marriage, and beginning to focus on post-American negativity regarding our history.  Furthermore, they were doing so by making mountains out of the same molehills and making molehills out of the same mountains (or sometimes simply ignoring the mountains altogether).  Again, all of them doing so to promote the same agendas.  

Americans being more clever then than now realized that's a problem.  If all but a few outlets (WSJ, National Review) were firmly in the same camp alongside only one political entity, it could spell trouble.  Even if my friends and fellow students were democrats who reaped the rewards then, they understood down the road it could be a big issue. 

Hence Fox News was born.  And because it is one of the few openly biased outlets in opposition to the MSM's biases, it can come off as a bit rough.  Same reason Rush Limbaugh seemed worse because he was surrounded by entire swaths of a media and pop culture that did the exact same things to conservatives and Republicans as he did to liberals and Democrats.  If you lay down on one nail, it hurts worse than if you lay down on a bed of nails.  If you only have one outlet being all the bias and advocacy for one whole side, while the other side enjoys a broad representation in bias and advocacy across multiple media spectrums, it can appear more crass than it really is.

That, Deacon Greydanus, is the only real difference. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

Being a parent nowadays requires creative thinking

 Thus:


I loved that.  One point for the parents!

BTW, isn't it odd that the whole 'youth rebellion' - promoted by society and even given back handed support by church leaders - was basically a repudiation of the Fourth Commandment?  You know, the first commandment with a promise.  Well we didn't follow it.  And how did that promise turn out? 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

47% of whites surveyed disagree or are not sure that it's OK to be black

Imagine that.  If that were an actual poll with those results, we'd be hearing screams of racism from coast to coast.  The outrage would be beyond the coasts actually.  From the UN to the Vatican, outrage would be the song of the day.  And rightly so.  Imagine saying you don't know if it's OK to be of a particular skin color.  

Yet that's exactly the results of a poll that asked if it's OK to be white.  Just the question itself shows the deep delve of racism in our country.  That the Anti-Defamation league has denounced the statement 'it's OK to be white' as hate speech shows there's never forgetting the lessons of history, and then there's forgetting the lessons of history we're not supposed to forget.  

But in the poll - take polls for what they're worth - 47% of blacks questioned said it is not OK to be white, or they weren't sure if it is OK to be white.  For my money, if you're not sure if it's OK to have a certain color then, yes Virginia, you're a racist. 

Yet when once celebrated Dilbert creator Scott Adams reacted to this by labeling those blacks who have issue with the existence of white people as a hate group, and furthermore stating that moving away from blacks who don't think it's OK to have your skin color is the logical thing to do, papers across the nation dropped his comic strip like a hot potato.  No mention that almost half of blacks surveyed weren't sure if it's OK to be white.  Apparently the Anti-Defamation league thinks there's a problem with being white, so it must be fine*.  

The only problem mentioned is that Scott Adams pointed out the logical response of logical people who find out their existence is not approved of.  I'm not saying Adams was smart for what he said or how he said it.  After all, we live in the 21st Century, a cool generation or so after we ceased being a free country according to liberal definitions (in case you missed the memo).  And it might not have been the best way to react to this racist finding.  After all, his was simply a 'then it's us vs. you buster' response.  That is, of course, the goal here.  Divide and conquer.  That's how you get a free country to give it up: Make it about us vs. them, with the assurance it will only be them who loses all the nifty freedoms, prosperity and blessings. 

Nonetheless, the fact that almost all outlets glossed over and ignored the donkey in the living room about blacks increasingly disliking the existence of whites is more than telling. Like so many things liberalism once condemned, race hate and discrimination against the wrong ethnicity are now all the rage.  Add that to free speech, judgementalism, religious tolerance, respecting other opinions, equality and group identity, in case you're keeping track.  

Bonus observation:  One of my sons has said that with each passing day, it becomes easier to sympathize with the German people in the 1930s.  After all, look at what people are willing to accept, and how few are prepared to speak out. 

*Note the trend.  Remember when the Left declared the statement 'All Lives Matter' to be racist motivated?  See how that works?  Now we're told that saying 'It's OK to be White' is a racist chant.  You do know there will be more such declarations over the next few years, don't you?  Examples of just which people groups are not to be called OK.  Again, great job Anti-Defamation league for becoming everything you say you're against. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

That train derailment story you've heard about

Happy belated b'day - Dad as I like to remember him
Here in the Buckeye State, we've been hearing about the train derailment in East Palestine for weeks now.  Long and short, someone goofed.  It is a story because following the derailment, it was stated that no hazardous chemicals were present.  So they came in an initiated a burn to eliminate the spillage. Problem?  Obviously there were hazardous materials, and now they're - everywhere. 

I'll let the lawyers and the politicians work it out.  For me, I can't figure out how they got it so wrong.  As you all know, my dad was a railroad engineer.  I used to know quite a lot about about trains since they're trains.  And every kid (and many adults) loves trains.  Even if he didn't 'live the train culture' (it was merely a job to him), he would always tell me what I wanted to know about the railroad.  And I listened when he talked to mom.  A few times over the years he let me ride with him on the engine (and once on a caboose - fun stuff!  Think an RV on rails).  When I was in college, he even let me try my hand with running one, albeit in a small local train yard at about 5mph and no cars attached.  

Now, trains are actually a delicate thing.  Yes, they're big and scary.  But the whole thing is a masterclass in physics.  For instance, the balance of wheels on rails is a precarious one.  Almost no train in the history of trains ever derailed because it hit something like a car or truck.  The actual collision is not the problem.  The reason why you'll see a derailment connected to a crossing accident is that a piece of the torn up vehicle became wedged between the wheels and rail, bending the rail out, and leading to the cars or engines jumping the track. 

Like flying, starting and stopping is the most dangerous part.  Start the train wrong, and you could tear a car in half.  Stop it wrong and some of the cars may not get the memo in time, resulting in a pile up.  And of course, derailments are always a concern, from start to finish and in between.  

I've heard on the news about some overheated bearings causing the derailment.  That could be.  Though how they missed it I don't know.  That's called a hot box, and railroads have 'hot box detectors' up and down the lines.  That was one of the more irksome parts of the job IIRC.  It wasn't unusual for a detector to trip even if there was nothing there.  Nonetheless, each time it did, the train had to stop and someone (the engineer being the boss of the train crew, it usually wasn't my dad) had to walk the length of the train to see what happened.  

That's often how things on the railroad work, by the way.  If there is a problem with the detector, it triggers.  Like railroad crossing lights, they're set to go off if there are any problems.  So even if there was a problem with this detector, it should have triggered.  I'd think the technology is even more advanced now then back in the day.

So no clue how that could cause the derailment unless someone messed up royally somewhere.  

As for the lack of knowledge about the cargo, that's unbelievable.  Each train car my dad hauled was on a list containing all the needed specs.  Some trains were special trains made up for specific cargos.  The ones with anything more dangerous than sponges had special information attached.  On the lines through Ohio my dad worked on, one of the trains was affectionally called 'The Bomb.'  About 100 of 150 cars or so of explosive and hazardous liquids. Not only were the materials an issue, but hauling them wasn't easy.  Tank cars in general were tough to control.  If you've ever carried a large container of liquid that began sloshing back and forth, you know why.  Imagine a 30 ton car with tens of thousands of gallons that begin sloshing back and forth if not controlled.  Then imagine dozens of such cars sloshing at different rates.  

That's why the safety protocols around such loads were Himalayan in scope.  And not just the train crew, but the various railroad yards and stations, and all locations the train would travel through were made aware.

How with all of that the response was 'Gee, we didn't think there were hazardous chemicals' just doesn't sound real. What actually happened and why I don't know.  But that's why this is becoming a news story even on international news.  Mixed with continuing 'nothing to see here folks' in the face of citizens developing all manner of ailments, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. 

Oh, and one shout out.  Do engineers and train crews a favor and don't try to beat trains at railroad crossings.  It's stressful for them since there's little they can do but watch.  Even though my dad had learned how to mitigate damage at crossings, if someone darted in front of him at the last, he couldn't do anything.  Remember, rule of thumb: It usually takes the length of the train to stop, and some trains can be over a mile long.  All accidents were stressful, even though he was seldom in danger (gasoline tank trucks being an exception, and the bogeyman of railroad engine crews).  When the accidents were fatalities, it always weighed on him.   The worst I recall was a car with four women leaving a party who at the last minute darted around the crossing gates. All four were killed instantly.  It was the only time I remember Dad having to take time off from work.  So next time, just wait a couple minutes.  Nothing is so important as to not make it to where you're going. 

Results are almost always the same

BTW, just for fun, the worst cargo to haul per my dad?  Plastic pellets.  That's because there was no air between those things and it was 100% dead weight, to the tune of hundreds of tons.  That's a car that needed TLC or you could have those torn up derailed trains pretty fast. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

What were they thinking? The greatest cinematic dumpster fires ideas ever

When I put out a list of things, I never pretend the list is definitive.  I understand opinions and one man's trash is another man's art.  But I defy anyone to argue that the following movies don't deserve to be called among the worst ideas ever.  

These aren't the worst movies.  Roger Ebert once said that he hated to give bad reviews.  Just the mammoth effort that goes into even the worst movie should be worth a C+.  Nonetheless, bad movies are made.  Movies that perhaps should have been good.  Or movies that looked good on paper, but not in the delivery.  Or movies that had potential, but a bad director, bad editing or bad production or performances torpedoed the poor thing. 

The following list, however, is not that. This is not a 'worst movies ever' list. This is a "what the heck were they thinking?" list.  These are movies that you could stop a random five year old and ask if they were a good idea and the five year old would know better.  They are ideas that no sane person ever should have thought would work.  And yet here they are.  In many cases, they  were produced by people at the top of their game.  Yet their only place in history is a cautionary tale for anyone taking up a camera. 

In no particular order (except the last): 

The Dungeons and Dragons Movie 

Poor D&D.  On the 25th Anniversary of its publication, many news outlets ran stories about its history and its influence.  Big players from Hollywood celebs to corporate leaders in the tech industry spoke of its influence on everything fantasy/sci-fi that has come since.  From video game basics to the influence on fantasy publications today, it's not hard to argue that D&D is one of the most influential cultural outputs of the last 50 years. 

It's also one of the most maligned.  Initially when I heard about it in high school, it was no different than Pac Man or Trivial Pursuit as fads go.  But somewhere that changed, and by the late 80s the whole D&D genre was a cultural pariah.  To play D&D was to ensure lonely Friday nights.  

So the announcement that D&D would be getting the Hollywood big budge treatment had to be good news for that subculture of D&D RPGers.  And boy were they disappointed.  What a train wreck. Celebrated actor Jeremy Irons was brought in as a ringer to be that Alec Guinness heft for a movie filled with mostly less known to minor actors.  I'm not sure his reputation has entirely recovered. 

What landed on the big screen was almost a parody.  Ed Wood could have done better.  It was cheap and bad and excruciating to watch.  I caught it on a streaming service a few years ago and tried to watch it, and I couldn't.  It was so bad it was embarrassing.  When you feel ashamed for the actors, you know it's bad.  Again, most who were in it I've not seen since, except Jeremy Irons.  And his appearance is still wrapped up with his scenery gorging over the top performance.  

Of all the movies on this list, I admit this didn't have to be a bad idea from the start.  But the minute they saw the plans, the actual screenplay, they should have pulled the ripcord and waited for something better.  

The general fan reaction to the movie

Head 

If ever something defined cultural fad, it was The Monkees.  Seizing upon the Beatles revolution, The Monkees were meant to target that demographic of young girls who were watching their mop top Beatles mature and embrace a more adult, and more psychedelic, direction. 

Enter the TV show The Monkees.  Charming and likeable and 'too busy singing to put anybody down', they were a fine way to kill a half hour beginning in 1966.  Because they portrayed a fictional rock group living in California, they had to have music.  And the army of talent enlisted to write and play Monkees songs was impressive.  The problem was, the band was made of actors playing musicians (though two were actual folk musicians in their own right).  The albums featured the Monkees singing, but professional songwriters and musicians were playing and writing the songs. That was the difference: the studio marketed them as an actual self contained music group in the manner of the Stones or Beatles.  Think Milli Vanilli for the 1960s.  That, and a general weakness of premise, helped put an end to Monkee-mania barely two years into the project.

Not to die out too soon, however, the 'band' rallied its resources, and with funding from - of all people - Jack Nicholson, attempted to slow their failing fortunes by producing their own film, ala Beatles style: Head.  If you've never seen it, don't worry, you're not alone. Rather than save the Monkees brand, it all but sealed the deal.  Peter Tork left shortly after, and soon after that went Michael Nesmith.  Instead of being their big comeback, all that Head became - for those few who have heard of it - was a cautionary tale.  Sometimes it's best to let a dying premise die. 

Battlefield Earth 

John Travolta has certainly had an up and down career.  He became an overnight success as dimwitted Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter.  Then he starred in the defining Disco moment of the Disco era: Saturday Night Fever.  The very next year he scored box office gold in the big screen version of Grease.   Then that was that.  He made some good and stinker films over the next few years.  Some good, others not so good.  Some downright embarrassing. Urban Cowboy was passable.  Look Who's Talking was cute.  But those were bright spots among forgotten films and shameful flops.  

Then came Pulp Fiction.  Playing the dancing hit man Vince Vega put him back at the top of his game.  His and Uma Thurman's iconic dance became the talk of the town.  Suddenly he was in the driver's seat again.  For the next few years, he had clout and influence. So what did he use it for?  The 2000 release of - Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth is fiction written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.  I have no clue.  I just know when Travolta brought the vision to the screen, everyone cringed.  It was that mortifying.  By just looking at the screenshots you could see the words plastered across the images: Stinker.  And it was.  It went beyond maligned and panned to being outright mocked to the level of meme. It was also so bad you know it had to be that bad from the beginning.  Consider the source material. 

Whatever momentum he received from Pulp Fiction was quickly squandered, and very few of his subsequent films made more impact than Staying Alive.  

In fairness to Travolta, something a little less embarrassing (remember, Travolta was not a dancer, but had to learn to dance for his role as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever):


Leonard Part 6

In the early 1990s, Bill Cosby was one of the undisputed power players in America.  Already successful on many fronts, Cosby's titular sitcom was one of the biggest shows in television history.  Cosby was 

also an activist.  He used his influence to bring black culture into the American mainstream, while showing black culture does not have to mean hood and ghetto.  He was also partly responsible for the mythology of MLK, even using an episode in his show as a platform to lift the March on Washington and the MLK legacy to almost deific levels. 

By the late 80s and early 90s, Cosby became the fist celebrity to overtake Paul McCartney as the wealthiest entertainer in the world.  Immensely powerful, wealthy beyond imagining, and universally respected, Cosby was a man who could snap his fingers and get anything he wanted.  

So what did he want?  To do some weird space action farce called Leonard, Part 6.  I really can't speak to this since I've never met anyone who saw it.  Even in its day it was mocked as the movie that had smaller audiences than the number in its title.  A joke from conception, it screamed 'This?  This is what you cashed your credentials in to make?'  It didn't destroy Cosby, but it sure tarnished his reputation as a creative force.  Other strategically placed tarnishings on other fronts would come around the corner down the road.  But the first chinks in the Cosby armor began in empty theaters across America under the marquee promoting Leonard, Part 6

Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles.  The biggest pop culture phenomenon in the world of modern entertainment. Their accomplishments and accolades read like a treatise on the wildest dreams of any entertainer in the last hundred years.  I needn't list the celebrated accomplishments of their meteoric career.  They are too well known to list here.  

Truth be told, however, The Beatles as culture changing, music altering, industry reforming, creative juggernauts existed mostly in the first years of their ascent.  From late 1962 to the release of their magnum opus Sgt. Pepper in 1967, their accomplishments and the evolution of culture, music, fashion, attitudes, art, and the recording industry in the 1960s were practically one and the same.  It is likely no coincidence, however, that this began to wane upon the death of their manger Brian Epstein.  While many dismissed him by that point as irrelevant next to the monstrous success and influence of the band, in hindsight one has to wonder just how important he was to their creative output.

That's because the first thing they did following his untimely death was produce the made for television movie Magical Mystery Tour.  Improvisation was the idea, and it was mostly Paul at the helm.  The plan was to fill a bus with actors, musicians, friends, circus performers, and anyone else available, then film whatever happened.  Sadly, nothing did.  It was a bomb from the get go, fans recoiled and critics pounced.  It was the first major creative blunder of their brief yet remarkable career.  It also showed the world that The Beatles, in the end, were not infallible.  As a bonus, it's a lesson for all involved in creative endeavors: sometimes your best friend is that restraining factor you rail against the most before you have unchecked power. 

Paul takes charge, and the others' enthusiasm shows it

Howard the duck  

I believe the first major cinematic foray into the Marvel Universe if you think on it.  Even after the less than stellar Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, George Lucas, along with Steven Spielberg, was considered one of the wonder boys of Hollywood.  He was seen as a filmmaking Midas, who turned to gold anything he touched.  Following the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film critic once boasted that Spielberg and Lucas could make  a movie about dirt and it would turn to magic.

No instrument invented can measure the creepiness of this
So naturally Lucas decided to focus his energy and attention on a big screen release of - Howard the Duck.  You know.  Howard the Duck.  Not being a comic book fan, I was only vaguely aware that the character existed.  How many of my friends were aware of Mr. Howard is beyond me, since not once in my entire childhood or youth did the topic come up.  And that is no doubt part of the problem.  The other part being the movie itself, which seemed to fail on almost every level that a movie can possible fail. 

Another part worth mentioning, BTW, was the actual Howard the Duck.  A teched up pseudo-puppet monstrosity.  Just look at it.  The scenes between the duck and Lea Thompson are almost violating in their creepiness. 

When she was interviewed some time later by Jay Leno, he asked Lea Thompson what she was thinking taking the role.  She admitted that in hindsight she wondered why she did it.  In response, Leno stated the final summation for the film and its impact on the world of entertainment: 'Don't worry, nobody saw it.'

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

That's right, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - the movie!   Sgt. Pepper is The Beatles' claim to legend. For decades it has been considered, if not the single greatest album of all time,  the single most influential album of all time.  It created an immediate shift in the whole business of the music industry.  It also represented the zenith of The Beatles' push to make the recording industry itself into an art form.  Wildly successful and culturally influential, it isn't their best album, but in terms of impact, it is to music what Citizen Kane is to movies.  

So what do you do about that? You make a Disco era feature film, loosely based on it, starring the Bee Gees!  In fairness, by the late 1970s, the BGs were mighty successful in their own right.  At the height of their success, riding the wave of that other 1977 hit Saturday Night Fever, many thought they could overtake The Beatles themselves.  Initially a Broadway show, the movie concept was heavily supported and financed by Peter Frampton, who himself was coming off the most successful live album to date. 

From Steve Martin and Donald Pleasance to Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton, from Carol Channing to Wolfman Jack, the project was a who's who of 70s cultural fads and icons. It was also a disaster.  Even though Universal Studios hoped it would become that generation's Gone With the Wind, it was the opposite.  While making an acceptable amount at the box office, it was quickly panned.  Word of mouth caught up with it, and not a few believe careers were permanently damaged from being connected to this movie, especially Frampton's.  It didn't do the Bee Gees much good either.  It all but cemented them in the 'Disco culture' which covered the film like a bad suit.  Once Disco died in 1980, it took the Bee Gees with it.  When that's what people remember about your film, you can bet the idea was a bad one from the start. 

Yes, it was that bad.

The Star Wars Holiday Special 

The all time, grand slam, gold medal, blue ribbon cinematic disaster in all of movie history.  George Lucas insists he never even heard of the movie.  According to him, he was almost shocked to see it on television when it debuted.  The problem is, Lucas is not one to trust when it comes to his version of history.  Remember a decade or so ago when he lambasted fans who insist Han shot first in the original Star Wars theatrical release?  As if there aren't millions of copies of the original for us to look at to see Han clearly shot first. In fact, he's the only one who shot.  When you believe being a billionaire gives you the right to redefine reality, your memories are not to be trusted.

I have no doubt that Lucas was not involved in the day-to-day production of this mess. But by 1978, the monster success of Star Wars as a bona fide global phenomenon put Lucas in the driver's seat when it came to the brand's usage.  Based on those in the know brave enough to say so over the years, he was aware of the project, understood the context in which it would be produced, and even continued to give it a thumbs up during production.  Yet given what happened on that fateful November night in 1978 when it aired, I can see why he would want to distance himself. 

I mean, what do you do when confronted by a horror like this:

My generation, and almost any kid under the age of 40 at that time, sat glued to the TV that night.  Remember, no DVDs, no VCRs, no streaming services.  Even though Star Wars lasted in some theaters for over  year, we knew once it was gone, it was gone.  So we were elated to hear that a sequel was going to be released - and on television no less!  Oh the joy, the excitement!  We couldn't wait.

To this day I remember the reaction among the kids on the next day at school.  In our class, we sat at tables of six, made up by having our desks all grouped together with three facing three.  I believe we just sat there and said nothing. If I remember correctly, we almost felt embarrassed for having wasted a valuable night of our lives watching such a thing.  

Again, Lucas insists he was a million miles away from this heap of dung.  I have no doubt he wasn't involved in much of the nitty gritty.  But in 1978, I also know he was aware, and aware enough to deserve some of the blame.  Given later ventures of his (see Howard the Duck above and the Star Wars Prequels), it becomes even easier to believe he was more involved in this than he will ever admit. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Because fighting racism is not the point

 

The destruction of the Christian Western democratic traditions is the point.  Using racism when convenient is simply one of many avenues taken to achieve that goal. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Actually it's a stupid point Mr. Annett

 So:


The fact is, what Stein said had nothing to do with Annett's point.  Stein is trying to deconstruct the positive influence of the Gospel, as well as using the sins of Christians to dismiss the historical contributions of the Christian Faith. Contributions that were still taught as late as the 1980s when I attended a state university and learned from decidedly not-Christian professors.  That Christians may have raped teddy bears is irrelevant to the role that the Christian Gospel had in revolutionizing the world's attitude about a host of issues, including the worth of the poor, the meek and the sanctity of human life.  Mr. Annett should have reiterated that valid point. 

Instead, Mr. Annett reminds me of the type of person I don't want by my side if I have to charge into battle.  Children of the Christian West have made acquiescence, surrender, compromise, and cowering before opposition our generational trademark.  We have focused so much on the sins of our ancestors, we'd rather let Moloch eat our children than take the chance on being as horrible as those reprehensible old timers in their defense.  We see that in the tens of millions of aborted pregnancies.  We see it in the staggering suicide, homicide and drug overdose rates among our youth.  We see it as our society goes from 'nobody will ever change a minor's body' to proudly declaring the goal of changing our children's bodies - consequences be damned - and parents can head to the cornfield if they don't like it.  

All of these developments are the result of those like Mr. Annett who, when met with a clear attack on the unique heritage of our Faith and the positives of its inheritance, is happy to charge forth with white flag waving.  I don't know if it's cowardice or a lack of belief.  I just know there comes a time when what we call virtue is merely cowardice with a Jesus mask.  

Saturday, February 18, 2023

This was an actual show when I was young


Which explains a lot.  I don't know why this showed up on one of my Facebook pages.  I did watch it some, tripped out though it was.  Even as a kid I got the strange feeling that there was some hidden meaning behind parts of the writing.  

They filmed some of the intro in Cincinnati, though it wasn't Kings Island.  Kings Island didn't open until 1972 (the Brady Bunch actually filmed a special episode around its opening).  Nonetheless, as a kid who must have seen it in reruns, I assumed King Island, which was a connection in my mind. 

It had different side-segments throughout each episode.  One was the Arabian Nights, and another show featuring who I later learned was Jan Michael Vincent.  I also remember some crude live action/animation skit around Tom Sawyer and the gang. I recall the late Ted Cassidy was Injun Joe, though in cartoon form (its likeness to him was apparent). I think that was actually a different show that was interspersed with the Banana Splits.  We won't discuss the Sour Grapes Bunch. 

Other than that, don't remember much about it, except the continued pesky impression I had that I was missing something behind the jokes.  Anyway, here is the opening theme which I admit was quite catchy, and I can still hum along with it all these years later: 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The New York Times priority


Skin color.  It's all about skin color, or anything that can pit as many Americans against each other as possible.  

In this case, it goes after that most underrepresented group in the NFL - African Americans.  At least in terms of winning quarterbacks I guess?  Are they saying something about the talent level of African American quarterbacks?  

I doubt it.  At this point you aren't supposed to think it through.  You're supposed to react as if you're a donkey hit by a whip.  It says Black yadda yadda, and Super Bowls, more yadda yadda.  And naturally you respond: Racism!

I don't know what is the most shocking thing today.  That our institutions have become so corrupted towards such dark purposes, or that Americans were stupid enough to play along.  Either or, things are happening fast now.  Like it or not, we're entering a new age.  

Whatever betide, you have come to the end of the Gondor that you have known.  

                                                                                                JRR Tolkien, The Return of the King 

BTW, that the media was already beginning to hype the 'two black quarterbacks!' narrative before the results of the final playoffs, and that once again a key game was ended with a questionable call from the refs, reminds me of my old saying.  Sometimes it takes more credulity to disbelieve a conspiracy theory than to believe in one. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A very Catholic movie?


I wonder.  Over at John C. Wright's blog, he posts a reader who argues that it is.  Yes, it had some pretty obvious Christian imagery.  That doesn't always mean something is filled to the brim with Gospel messaging.  

It wouldn't  surprise me if it was.  Even if Europe and the West were quickly shedding their beliefs in the Christian Faith by the 20th Century, it was still there.  And if belief in the religious message wasn't there, you could still find value in the Faith's teachings and symbolism.

Plus, you have to watch out.  Even if it wasn't steeped in Catholic meaning, that doesn't mean it was some communist socialist agitprop, as I've at times heard it (and other things) described.  In any event, it has been a long time since I watched it.  I'll have to go back and watch it.  The last time I saw it the boys were much younger, but all agreed it lived up to the hype. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Uh oh

Looks like that ad campaign you might have seen, the "He Gets Us" campaign about Jesus, is going to show on the Superbowl.  CNN has the scoop here

What's the problem?  Apparently the donors and individuals behind the campaign might not be leftists, that's what.  It's a Jesus that might not be in full lockstep with the Left.  Sure, some of the ads have shown Jesus as an immigrant, an oppressed refugee, a women's rights activists, a social rebel, and that's all fine and good.

And the ad for the Superbowl might not even aim anywhere close to below the waistline or any such cherished avenue for the Left.  And yet, we find they might be evangelicals.  They might be conservative.  They might not think like those on  the left demand they think, especially about sex stuff.  

And we all know Christians are seen by so many as hypocritical, judgmental and discriminatory.  Says so right there in the article. That's unlike the good people complaining who obviously just want people to think the way they think or else.  

Yeah.  It's that nauseating.  In a world in which something called journalism existed, the naked hypocrisy displayed in the article, as well as the obvious lies about diversity and inclusion, would be front page news.  As it is, they can actually say with a straight face that they are merely against the hate that demonstrates itself by failing to conform to leftist tolerance.  

UPDATE:  In case you cared, here is some web news thing that talks of this - from a clearly anti-Christian perspective.  Some of the Twitter posts it chooses to display are funny,  but also telling.  

It makes you wonder

Knowing little about Star Trek of any generation, and far less about The Love Boat, I would have to see some confirmation on this.  If true, you must admit, someone was inspired by someone, or it's typical Hollywood in a weird way.  


 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Assumptions

L-R: Thief, hacker, hitter, grifter, mastermind
I've said before that if my life depended on naming three modern television shows I'd be a gonner.  We don't watch much current programming, either aimed at kids or adults.  Most of our fare comes from pre-70s television, with a smattering of later shows (MASH or Monk for example) that the kids have picked up.  For my wife and I, we'll reminisce around a viewing of Magnum PI, or Simon and Simon.  But that's about it.  We don't watch much television anyway, preferring movies on DVD or even VCR - a subversive approach to be sure. 

The most 'modern' show we started watching is a show called The Librarians, and its predecessor Leverage.  I say predecessor, not because the show has anything to do with The Librarians, but because many of the same individuals were involved in both productions. 

Basically Leverage is a 21st Century reimagining of the old A-Team show.  That is, a bunch of world class outlaw mercenaries band together to help the little guy.  The premise is that the main 'mastermind' (played by lawsuit wielding Timothy Hutton) lost his son when the insurance company he worked for refused to pay for the child's experimental medical treatments.  As an internationally successful executive, he was able to pull his resources to right similar wrongs made against others. 

The band is a 'Robin Hood' gang of outlaws: The honest guy mastermind trying to right the wrongs done to little people (and avoid becoming as bad as the corruption he fights), the thief (a mentally unbalanced super-thief with nerves of steel and no self-censorship), the grifter (a terrible actress wannabe who nonetheless shines when deceiving people with her acting), the hacker (who is what every hacker dreams hacking computers could be), and the hitter (that is, hit man and assassin - the darkest character of the bunch, but also the most sensitive to others, especially vulnerable people and children). The whole show centers around your typical 'bad guys make better good guys' theme. 

There was one episode in this series I admit is pure enjoyment.  It follows the 'Rashomon' storyline. It is named "The Rashomon Job" just to drive the point home.  I touched on another famous example of this plotline some time ago here.  Named after a Kurosawa movie that some say popularized that type of plot, it's when multiple people relay their version of an event, and you see how radically different each one sees things.  

In this case, they are reminiscing about the five year old robbery of a priceless Middle Eastern dagger from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.  Each one claims to have stolen it, only to have lost it again.  As the accounts unfold, it turns out they were all there together vying for the same prize, but back before they knew each other.  The fun part is when each character is 'revealed' by the next person's version.  So in the first account, the 'grifter' tells of running into a handsome young doctor who was charming and quite attractive to her.  Only when the 'hitter (hit man)' tells his tale does she realize the doctor was him in disguise (remember, they didn't know each other).

It's cleverly done, and allows the characters to take potshots at each other as they saw themselves in the best light, while the others didn't.  For instance, the 'hacker' saw himself surrounded by dozens of adoring women, hanging on his every word.  But when the 'thief' tells her version, he's simply a bumbling computer hacker in a tux with a few nearby women rolling their eyes then walking away.

Standard for this storyline.  But there was one interesting difference.  In each account, the museum's head of security is seen as a major threat.  He's mean, he's all business, he takes no prisoners.  And each character has to dodge, avoid, or somehow escape his bulldog tenacity while he's guarding this precious artifact. 

Until the reveal.  The reveal is the point in this type of story where the 'reliable' witness finally stands up and explains 'what really happened.' In the All in the Family episode, it was honest Edith Bunker who set the record straight.  In this episode of Leverage, it was Timothy Hutton's character.

Naturally he sees everything from a different point of view - supposedly the correct one.  But when it comes to the security chief, he shows they were not only wrong, but all wrong the same way.  It turns out the security chief's stalking the hallways, barging into rooms, and accosting the different characters, was not because he  was this ruthless force to be reckoned with.

Nope.  Turns out he was a guy with a middle aged crush on the 'grifter's' disguised character (she disguised herself as a scientist working in the antiquities department). He was just trying to ask her out.  That doesn't mean he was a buffoon.  Quite the contrary, his character helped wrap things up in the end and save the day.  But each time he confronted one of the characters, he was merely trying to work up the courage to ask the young woman out on a date (and failing miserably).  

The dialogue was pretty much the same - and that was the brilliance of the writing.  Its merely changed context.  So when he barked at the 'hacker' that 'This job is his life!' (hence he will not fail to capture the perpetrators), in the 'reveal', he laments that 'This job is his life' - which is why he's so lonely.  It was a clever take that most such storylines don't have.  Usually they simply change the dialogue, along with everything else, to fit the version.  In the All in the Family version for instance, Archie sees Ron Glass  (complete with five foot afro) whip out a switchblade and say 'Black is beautiful baby', while Mike's version has the same character saying no such thing, but instead cowering and begging forgiveness from Mr. Bunker in his best Uncle Tom manner.  

Version #1: The grifter nervously avoids security's questions
But the part that hit me was that unlike the usual approach, where almost everything is seen differently by different characters, all of them saw security the same, dialogue and all: They all saw him as a threat (kudos to the actor for being intimidating in most of the episode, then the lost and helpless romantic beat puppy in the final reveal). Except for Timothy Hutton of course.  

When we watched this, my sons brought up an interesting point.  No doubt it was the point intended by the show's writers.  That is, Timothy Hutton's character is supposedly 'the honest one', working with all these thieves, con artists and mercenaries for the greater good.  Thus he sees things as they are.  The others, all dishonest and crooked in some way or another, saw things as dishonest people see things.  And we all know when a person is a thief, they assume everyone else is as well. Or at least they see the world as divided into victims and authorities.  Which is how they saw the security chief.  Being dishonest, they all saw him as a threat.  Because being robbers and crooks, that's how they measure things.  While the honest man saw him as the well meaning, if not awkward, museum security that he was. 

And that got me to thinking, as I am wont to do. Let's face it, how we see others sometimes says more about us than about those we see. When I've taught history in the past, I said the history you read will often tell you more about the historian than the history you're reading.  Same with many things. Sometimes the way we see others speaks volumes for ourselves. 

For instance, we live in an age that has elevated bigotry, especially racial bigotry, to the top of all human evils.  As predicted, it is now far worse id a white man rapea and murdera a black woman than if he merely raped and murdered a white woman.  And slavery?  African to African slavery is no big thing, because not racist.  Nor Asian, pre-Columbian American, or any other slavery.  But when it's whites owning non-whites, that's when it hits the fan - because slavery is one thing, slavery based on certain skin colors is a whole new ballgame. 

It's not just racism, however.  It can be gender, sexuality, religion, you name it.  A month or so ago I saw a new story that men who  have sex with men made up the lion's share of new HIV cases last year.  Why?  Because of homophobic bigotry, that's why. What does that even mean?  It matters not.  What matters is bigotry.  

Yet, I wonder.  An age that sees in everything bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, even full on racism - could it be because the ones who see it this way are, in fact, the bigots?  I think on all those pro-feminist men who were all about fighting for women in the War on Women.  Yet how many of them during the #MeToo stampede fell under accusations of all manner of sexual misconduct - from mere harassment all the way to charges of attempted rape.  Some accusations apparently had merit, and the bulk of the high profile offenders were those men who were proud liberals all about supporting women.  Makes you wonder if their easiness in calling other men sexists was projection.

I think on that when I see the speed with which we not only throw 'Bigot' onto the court at the drop of a hat, but how those who do so see things.  When you insist you can always tell a racist by the color of her skin, you have to admit.  Or if you talk about certain groups, often your own, in ways we would consider to be bigotry if applied to others, it makes me wonder.  I mean, if you see nothing but bigotry everywhere, see bigotry in everything, and often talk about people as mere caricatures of various groups you are here to save or condemn in a manner you would consider bigotry if applied to those groups by others, is it possible that you're the real bigot in the room?   Perhaps that's why you see bigotry everywhere, since it's ultimately a mirror you're looking at?  Makes me wonder.  Don't think I don't.